Most dental work is relatively safe, even for pregnant women. Preventive dental cleanings and yearly exams are not just safe; they’re very important for both your health and the health of your baby. The increased hormone levels that accompany pregnancy may cause the gums to bleed, swell, and trap food particles more often, which can result in increased irritation. Preventive dental work while pregnant is crucial for keeping away oral diseases like periodontitis, which has been connected to preterm labor.
What about other dental work during pregnancy?
Dental work while pregnant (cavity fillings and dental crowns, for example) ought to be dealt with to lower your risk of infection. If you do need dental work done while you’re pregnant, the second trimester is the ideal time. Once you get into the third trimester, it will likely be uncomfortable for you to lay on your back for longer amounts of time. Crisis dental work, such as tooth repairs, root canals, or tooth extractions are vital to both your dental and overall health. Elective procedures such as whitening and other cosmetic dentistry can be put off until after your child is born. Many women have called us and said “My tooth broke and I’m pregnant” but there is no need to panic.
What about the medications used during dental work?
There are conflicting schools of thought on how safe various dental medications can be for the health of your baby. Lidocaine is the commonly used numbing medication for dental work. Lidocaine (Category B) does cross the placenta after organization. In the event that dental work is required, your dentist will use the smallest amount of medication possible to perform the procedure, while still leaving you comfortable.
Some dental work will require you to take antibiotics. There are a number of antibiotics (amoxicillin, penicillin, and clindamycin, for example) that are considered to be safe during pregnancy.
What about dental x-rays during pregnancy?
Routine x-rays, typically taken at your yearly checkup, can normally be put off until after you give birth. X-rays are important for many dental procedures, especially in an emergency like a broken tooth. As per the American College of Radiology, no diagnostic x-ray has a dose of radiation high enough to effect the health of your baby once you’ve reached the second trimester. During your first trimester, your baby’s organs are developing, and it’s best to avoid any risks during this time if possible.